After an injury slowed her progress last year, Elli Kliewer is back on track this season. The San Benito High senior is rounding into top form heading into Saturday’s Monterey Bay League Championships. Kliewer took second in the MBL’s third Center Meet on Oct. 18 in 19 minutes, 4 seconds—just three seconds off the winning time.
“It’s been a really great and exciting season,” she said. “I have to push myself to do better so my times can drop. We want to make state, and it would be a great way to top it off being a senior.”
Kliewer won the MBL Championships during her sophomore year—she didn’t compete in the sport as a freshman—before an injury midway through her junior season derailed her hopes of winning back-to-back individual titles. However, Kliewer has come back strong this season, and she’s peaking at the perfect time.
Kliewer has steadily picked up her pace in the last month, as her times have dropped with each successive meet.
Haybalers co-coach Ryan Shorey said Kliewer’s determination and work ethic has allowed her to rise to prominence.
“It’s great to have someone who stays on the straight and narrow and is doing what she knows she should be doing,” Shorey said. “She wants to get back to being that individual league champion as well as helping the team to another championship.”
The Balers are aiming for a fifth consecutive league title, the longest such streak by any sports team at the school. Indeed, the tradition-rich San Benito girls program is running in fifth gear—and they’re hoping to hit another level in the next few weeks.
“The girls are still well within range of making it to state,” Shorey said. “Elli doing well is what will help us get there.”
Kliewer has been nothing short of consistent this season, having recorded a first-place finish to go along with a pair of seconds and one third-place finish. She has finished no lower than 14th, and that came in the loaded Earlybird Invitational on Sept. 16 at Toro Park.
Kliewer has been focusing on running on the balls of her feet, completing her workouts strong and making sure during the races she stays even-keeled.
“I want to keep my pace and make sure I’m not going out too fast or too slow,” she said.
Kliewer also focuses on taking quick, short steps on the uphill portion of a race while using her momentum to gain speed on the downhill. Ultimately, that’s where most cross country races are won—up and down the hills.
“Even if you’re tired after running up the hill, you have to maintain pace, push yourself and lean forward on the downhill,” she said.
Shorey has been impressed with Kliewer’s demeanor ever since she came out for the team in her sophomore year. Kliewer, who played volleyball as a freshman, has demonstrated an ability to consistently produce meet after meet.
“Elli is one that leads by example,” Shorey said. “She doesn’t say much at practice, but she gets her stuff done on the course and on the track. When she is completing her repeats, that’s when you see her leadership.”
Typical workouts include intervals, tempo, hill repeats, long runs and fartlek runs. Kliewer enjoys all of the different workouts, as they all serve a different purpose in building up the cardiovascular system.
“I like them all because they all blend together to help you improve,” she said. “Everything is geared for a specific purpose to help you in a race.”
Kliewer plans on running in college, having gained a love for running in the last three years.
“I want to see what I can do,” she said.
Something says Kliewer’s best running days are ahead of her.